Advice: My daughter hates me

Last updated 05:00 13/09/2012

They tried to give their daughter a happy, stable upbringing, but she blames them for all her troubles. What can her hurt parents do?

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Our daughter had a tough time through the teenage years and to get her away from the bad crowd we decided to send her to a nice boarding school.

Since then she has blamed me for everything! Now she is married to a lovely chap, has two gorgeous kids and still treats me like dirt!. I usually end up crying on the way home from her place but when I stayed away she rang me after a few months and gave me hell.

Everything still comes back to those teenage years! My husband sees and hears but prefers to stay out of it! I just don't know how to make it better.

Upset mum

Maybe the key phrase here is 'everything still comes back to those teenage years'. Time may have moved on and she may now have a lovely husband and gorgeous kids, but it sounds as if the two of you are still stuck in the past conflicts and until you move past this, not much will change.

Sometimes the people we most want to be close to are the ones we also push away and if the teenage years were tough you may not have found useful ways of weathering the storms together.

You also mention your fear of her finding out you have talked about this so I wonder if she still feels a degree of rejection, shame and not being able to make things right with you - in fact I suspect you both share many of the same feelings of trying to reach out and then finding it goes wrong.

I wonder if you have ever been able to sit and really listen to her feelings and thoughts about her time at boarding school. Often when people close to us say things that are hard to hear we are so busy trying to let them know why we acted the way we did, or feeling our own pain or anger at what they are saying, that we don't really stop and let the other person give full vent to what they have felt and experienced. This may be one of those times when some hard things need to be aired so you can both move on.

I suggest you find a time when you are able to be just with her (no kids, partners or distraction) and take some time to talk about what you both want from your relationship.  How does this sound?

Start by letting her know you love her to bits and would do anything to make this relationship work but you don't know how. Let her know you really want to understand what is not working for her in the relationship now and what didn't work for her about the boarding school experience.

Another option is to express these things in writing - that way you get to see what you have written and take the time to get the right tone - this can be very powerful. Even if this conversation/letter  goes well, it will take time for you both to figure out new patterns of getting on, and you will need to keep revisiting how to keep the communication lines open and respectful. 

For more advice and information on counselling, visit Relationships Aotearoa online or join them on Facebook.

We'd love to hear your take on this week's issue. Before you comment below, though, remember that this is a real-life situation. This reader has bravely shared their personal life with you; please show them respect by refraining from hurtful or abusive comments.

- Stuff

55 comments
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Kiwi Fella   #1   07:00 am Sep 13 2012

I have only ever meet one person that likes boarding school and he is currently 13.

Spoken to hundreds that "hated it"! Heard many stories of bullying and worse.

1 + 1 = ?

Neil   #2   07:33 am Sep 13 2012

times got tough, the parent gave up and shipped 'the problem' off to boarding school, what else was to be expected?

Roma   #3   07:45 am Sep 13 2012

While the letter might be abridged, it sounds like there is more to this than stated and that you are failing to take some responsibility. Your language is very positive to you, and blaming to your daughter. In addition, she has the support of her partner, when you do not have the support of yours, which is indicative. I suggest that only a qualified practitioner could assist you to work through these issues. Sitting down and talking to your daughter is unlikely to resolve things, and may harm her further.

Kathleen   #4   07:53 am Sep 13 2012

#1, that's not fair! My sister goes to boarding school and she absolutely loves it, as do all her friends there (the ones who didn't like it mainly left). Besides, it doesn't sound like the girl in this story was very happy at her day school either.

Emily   #5   07:59 am Sep 13 2012

I'm sorry that you are being so hurt by your daughter's actions. I'm 40 and also a Mother who was sent to boarding school for my teens. Although I am mature and rational, I still cannot believe my Mother made that decision - a decision I would never make for my own children. I know that some children have happy experiences at boarding school but I, like many others, felt pushed out. I do appreciate that the education I had made a positive impact on my career. I still feel rejected by her actions but have forgiven her. I can only recommend that you keep the lines of communication open and do not expect too much from her. She will understand one day, maybe when her children hit their teens. I do hope things improve for you both.

That's two   #6   08:02 am Sep 13 2012

Well... I enjoyed boarding school. That's two.

Now married, kids, own home, dog. Good job. Happy. Things seem to have turned out all right.

Victoria   #7   08:03 am Sep 13 2012

I really feel for you in this situation. Commenters like kiwi fella #1 have no idea what they are talking about. I know loads of children who have had happy boarding school experiences. Trying to make you feel guilty for sending her to boarding school is not helpful. Parents do the best they can and it sounds like you made the right choice at the time. You need to speak to your daughter about things directly. Let her tell you all the hurt she felt about anything at all ( you can bet this is not just about boarding school as you sent her there to get her away from problems she was having). If you are able to talk with her openly and let her express herself you then may be able to suggest some counselling for you both or even just a timeout on the old hurts and a new start. Your daughter seems like she needs to grow up and start being accountable for herbown emotional wellbeing - hopefully you can guide her through this last step. Best of luck.

Victoria   #8   08:04 am Sep 13 2012

As hard as this may be to hear, your good intentions may have had the opposite effect to what you were hoping for. Her difficult behaviour in her teenage years means it was likely she was crying out for her parents to see something was going wrong, and she needed you desperately (though teenagers are notoriously bad at accepting the help, or asking for it in the right ways). You sent her to a "nice boarding school", but it is likely she interpreted this as "I'm so bad, my parents can't even handle me, and sent me away to be someone else's problem".

I agree that you need to sit down and talk through this experience with her and work through whatever resentments you both hold. You both need to truly listen to each other. But I would start with putting aside all YOUR feelings, and really listening and accepting hers first. This is not a time for you to start justifying to her.

RBR   #9   08:17 am Sep 13 2012

Family counselling to talk through it and move on. Not sure they will work it out without professional help as they have been stuck in this unresolved conflict for so long.

mmm   #10   08:22 am Sep 13 2012

My mother and I have never been close. Background story is that she raised me as a single mother and wanted to give me the things that she never had as a child, but forgot about me and spending time with me. Partly due to her always moving me from one activity to another that as a child i didnt want, pushing me to exhaustion at school, wanting to be my best friend when i needed a mother, going to night shift where the money was better, then first meeting her now husband when he turned up at our place and she was at work... I find that its only now that she is actually listening to what i am saying but we still argue, we are still not as close as she would like but talking about it without her husband and my partner does help. These things take time and both of you need to communicate and find ways where you can move forward together.


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